Things to Consider when Renovating an Older Space for Today’s Modern Office…Forethought Required

Contributor: Swinerton Blogger   |   January 29, 2016
Things to Consider when Renovating an Older Space for Today’s Modern Office…Forethought Required

This is part two of a two part series on considerations that should be considered when renovating an older space in today’s high-tech world. Click here in case you missed part one!

For companies that are considering renovating existing or building out new office space, there are a myriad of existing and emerging trends to consider when creating collaborative workplaces that address technology, employee recruitment and retention, and sustainability.

Technology is a driver of change.  The workplace environment has morphed enormously within the past decade, and continues to do so at a rapid pace, mirroring that of technological advances.  Wireless technology, laptops, hand-held devices, and cell phones have made it unnecessary to be tethered to a cubicle or office.  Technology enables collaboration when small groups gather in communal spaces such as huddle rooms or connect through a variety of teleconferencing vehicles. 

The physical size of technology has shrunk as well, resulting in the need for smaller work surfaces, and perhaps the opportunity to lease a smaller amount of space. Ten years ago a typical cubicle measured eight feet by six feet; now they measure six feet by six feet— a 12-square-foot difference.  A typical hard walled office is 10 feet by 15 feet to accommodate a swing door and furniture layout circulation. By installing an efficient systems furniture layout and replacing the swing door with a sliding door, the office can become nine feet smaller, and companies can reduce overall square footage rent exposure or carve out more areas for collaboration and creative work. 

Employee Engagement
A second reason for the changing landscape of office environment is the expectation of the Millennial workforce for a more collaborative, transparent, and social surrounding.  With Forbes recently naming Austin as having the No. 2 Best Neighborhood for Millennials, understanding the workplace motivators of the younger generation helps in employee recruitment and retention. 

Lower height partitions in systems furniture present a more open and collaborative setting - features typically desired by Millennials. Communal areas such as cafes, huddle rooms, and nooks provide for flexible work areas with various sizes of groups of people.  Glass walls in private offices generate transparency between supervisors and employees for better employee relations. Reconfiguration of low height or no partitions, placed at the building’s perimeter, offers better natural light for everyone’s enjoyment.

But with all of this openness, lack of acoustical and visual privacy can become a challenge. Solutions to building a quieter work environment include installing acoustical ceiling tiles with higher sound transmission classifications, and using sound-masking techniques in desk-level materials, walls and flooring.